Istanbul, Turkey -
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to finally step down in a speech he delivered to the Turkish Parliament today. Turkey is an influential country in the region and is also an original founding member of NATO, plus has one of the largest militaries within NATO and is considered technologically advanced.
Speaking to his ruling AK Party he said, "Without spilling any more blood, without causing any more injustice, for the sake of peace for the people, the country and the region, finally step down. Fighting your own people until the death is not heroism. It's cowardice. If you want to see someone who fights his people to the death, look at Nazi Germany, look at Hitler, look at Mussolini. If you cannot learn a lesson from them, look at the killed Libyan leader who turned his guns on his own people and only 32 days ago used the same expressions as you. We do not have eyes on any country's land, we have no desire to interfere in any country's internal affairs."
In a sign that Turkey is starting to put action to words, Turkey has ordered its regional commanders along its border with Syria to undergo armament inspections and has been delivering supply stocks to forward operating areas of its army.
Since the Syrian uprising, 3,500 civilians have been killed according to U.N. estimates; however, there is no way to verify this because Syria has kept western media organizations out of the country or under tight control. Today alone, an estimated 11 activists have been killed according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Paris.
Syria has been further isolated by a recent action by the Arab League voting to suspend Syria from the regional political bloc, something rarely done by fellow Arab states to one another.
Assad said in an interview published on Sunday he would not bow to international pressure to stop the crackdown, saying he faced armed foes. Authorities blame the violence on "armed terrorist groups" and say 1,100 security personnel have been killed since March.